Are You a Glass Half-Full Person? That May Help Your Memory as You Age
It's just another reason to always look on the bright side of life.
If you're generally the type of person who always has a sunny, positive outlook on life, we have some great news for you: Your good attitude may just help prevent memory decline as you age. A new study published in the Association for Psychological Science found that individuals who feel enthusiastic and cheerful—a mentality that psychologists call "positive affect"—are less likely to experience memory decline. The findings contribute to an overall belief that a positive mentality can affect your physical health and social relationships, too.
"Our findings showed that memory declined with age," said Claudia Haase, an associate professor at Northwestern University and senior author on the paper. "However, individuals with higher levels of positive affect had a less steep memory decline over the course of almost a decade," added Emily Hittner, a PhD graduate of Northwestern University and the paper's lead author.
A team of researchers analyzed data from nearly 1,000 middle-aged and older U.S. adults who participated in a national study conducted at three time periods: between 1995 and 1996, 2004 and 2006, and 2013 and 2014. Participants described a range of positive emotions that they experienced in the last 30 days. In the later two assessments, participants completed tests that analyzed their memory performance, which included recalling words immediately after a presentation and then again 15 minutes later.
If you're looking for a way to improve your attitude and strengthen your memory, experts say spending time in nature—particularly in blue spaces—can help. And while the coronavirus pandemic has limited our ability to spend time with loved ones in person, carving out time for a phone call, Zoom call, or socially distanced gathering can help give you a more positive outlook.